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Starbucks in Saudi Arabia Lifts Ban on Women

The store now adheres to local religious laws by keeping men and women separate.

Jake Brewer/Flickr

Female customers are welcome once again at a Starbucks location in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, reports CNN. Religious police had previously posted a sign in the coffee shop's window declaring that women could not enter, as the store was not equipped with a "gender wall" — a fixture required in all Saudi restaurants that's intended to keep single men separated from women and families. The sign suggested that women, who are banned from driving cars in the country, should have their drivers come inside to get their coffee instead.

Per CNN, Starbucks issued the following statement:

Starbucks welcomes all customers, including women and families, to enjoy the Starbucks experience. We have worked with local authorities to obtain approval to refurbish one of our stores in Jarir, which was originally built without a gender wall. That meant it could only accommodate men in accordance with local law. This was the only such Starbucks store in Saudi Arabia. During construction, the store could only accommodate and serve single men, and a poster was placed at the store entrance as required by local law. We are pleased to share that the store is now accessible to single men on one side as well as women and families on the other side. Starbucks has now 78 stores in Saudi Arabia and all stores cater to both families and singles, except for one that is exclusively reserved for women and families.

Starbucks is hardly the only business that's enforced a ban on female customers, temporary or otherwise: Despite the fact that it's against the law, numerous restaurants and cafes in the country have tried to ban women from entering without a male chaperone.

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